The Sketchy Feminist

Staring down the male gaze, or: Looking at looking at women in popular culture

Tag: TV

Supernatural vs. Women, Part 2 of Whatever Continued: Fangirls, Part II of III

This post is about Becky. (And it includes SPOILERS for just about everything, so y’know, fair warning.)

Becky Rosen, played by Emily Perkins, appears in two episodes in Supernatural Season 5 and one episode in Season 7. She is also referenced, without making a guest appearance, in two more Season 5 episodes.

Appears in:

  • “Sympathy for the Devil,” Season 5, Episode 1. Directed by Robert Singer; Written by Eric Kripke.
  • “The Real Ghostbusters,” Season 5, Episode 9. Directed by Jim Conway; Written by Eric Kripke and Nancy Weiner.
  • “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!,” Season 7, Episode 8. Directed by Tim Andrew; Written by Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin.

Is referenced in:

  • “Abandon All Hope . . .,” Season 5, Episode 10. Directed by Philip Sgriccia; Written by Ben Edlund.*
  • “Swan Song,” Season 5, Episode 22. Directed by Steve Boyum; Written by Eric Kripke and Eric Gewitz.

Becky, known by her high school class as “Yucky Becky,” is the ultimate Supernatural fangirl. She writes slash fiction. She goes to conventions. She sends gifts to the series’s creator. Her heart’s desire is to marry Sam and hunt evil things with him. Becky is obsessive. And devoted. Sam and Dean regard her with fear and disdain. And pity. Lots of pity, really.

Single-minded in the pursuit of her fangirl goals, Becky does some morally reprehensible things. Becky is not a good person.

It’s also hard to call her a bad person. Becky is . . . The Fangirl. A species unto herself, who indulges in her baser instincts at the expense of others because that’s what The Fangirl does. Can she help herself? Of course not! Her fandom is a breed of madness.

Becky’s presentation is . . . problematic, at best. Controversial, even, within the show’s actual fan communities.

And I love her.

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Glee: a TV show that exists.

Rough mouse drawing of the "loser" hand from the Glee logo

A Glee “loser hand” drawn with a mouse in approx. 5 seconds. Because I could not be bothered to make proper Glee fanart.

Glee is a TV show that exists. It is very famous and has a huge fan following. It is horrible except when it’s awesome and awesome except when it’s horrible. Sometimes it verges into middle-of-the-road-okay territory, but those times are rare. Rare like unicorns, except that in Glee, everyone is apparently a rare and special unicorn, so maybe something rarer than that. The mythical bisexual man, perhaps, the existence of which Glee attempted to debunk in “Blame it on the Alcohol” (Season 2, Episode 14).

So yeah, in the Glee universe, bisexual men are totes just confused gay men going through a phase. But remember that diversity and acceptance are important, kiddos! Oh, Glee.

I hate Glee except when I love it and love Glee except when I hate it. Some days, it just seems like an incredible mishmash of hypocrisy and random exploitative stereotyping, not helped by the fact that one of its most-beloved characters is one of the flimsiest straw bigots ever to grace a TV monitor. I mean, Sue Sylvester’s bigotry is not even consistent, and it changes to suit the needs of each individual episode. Of course, everyone’s everything changes to suit the needs of each individual episode, and relationships between characters may as well be dictated by musical chairs. What I’m saying is, some days, I’m ashamed I ever watch Glee. I go through weeks where the thought of watching it just makes me feel bad about myself.

And then a switch flips in my brain or something, and my feeling of “wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole” becomes “needs want must have now” and I marathon whatever’s up on Hulu until I’m more-or-less current again.

And it’s not that there’s no good to be had there. The cast is amazingly talented (at times so much more so than the material merits that there’s kind of a weird disconnect) and there are some really cool, breakout, takeaway performances. Darren Criss and guest star Matt Bomer singing Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” in “Big Brother” (Season 3, Episode 15)? Awesome. The cover of No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” in “The Break Up” (Season 4, Episode 4)? It got some mixed reviews, but it’s one of my favorite numbers in the show. Heck, all of “The Break Up”? That episode was just really well done. Lea Michele singing just about anything ever, because she really is at least as talented as her character is supposed to be? I loved my Spring Awakening Original Broadway Cast recording CD well before I watched Glee, and Lea Michele is all over that soundtrack.

And, in spite of all the stereotypes, in spite of all the misrepresentation and flat-out negative representation, Glee is offering something that a lot of other shows aren’t offering: representation. This representation is often not sensitive or nuanced or even respectful, but some marginalized groups/people are at least made visible. Marginalized teens, at that. There aren’t a ton of high-profile TV shows out there with prominent disabled and gay teen characters, or teens of color. They recently brought a male-to-female transgender teen girl into the regular cast, and I have no idea where I can find another black, teen, trans character on TV right now. Sure, it feels kind of like Glee is filling out its diversity bingo card, but, as I often remind myself while watching Glee, the bar for diversity representation in Hollywood has been set really low.

Staggeringly low.

Which is not to say that marginalized teens don’t deserve better than what Glee has to offer them.

Because they do. They deserve so much better.

So hopefully someone will offer that to them soon.

Glee. It’s a TV show that exists. I will probably keep watching it, in fits and starts, at least until something better comes along.

Supernatural vs. Women, Part 1 of Whatever: “Heart” and “Wishful Thinking”

SPOILERS to Season 4 ahead.

So, I saw one of those Internet memes that asked how I would do in the zombie apocalypse if my group were made up of the protagonists of the last three things I read/watched/played. I had been marathoning Supernatural at the time, so naturally my first thought was, “Score!” Because I was so ready for the zombie apocalypse. I was all, “Bring it on!” I mean, if only, right? Those brothers have got the knowledge, the know-how and the undead-ready arsenal of weapons in the trunk of their immortal ’67 Chevy Impala. And an immortal Impala sounds like a good thing to have in the zombie apocalypse. Because if there’s one thing that The Walking Dead taught me, it’s that cars are important.

And then I realized: I’d been marathoning Supernatural. And since I’m, well, female, the Winchester brothers would probably get me possessed by a demon before accidentally kidnapping me and then killing me in ritual sacrifice for contrivey plot reasons. And then they’d feel all bad about it, possibly all the way until the end of the episode. But probably not, because they’d get distracted by something way more important than my untimely and undignified demise, because the Winchesters must never cease their epic road trip, and I don’t think I’m invited.

And probably the zombie apocalypse was all their fault anyway, because those dudes are kind of morons.

I love Supernatural. I’m even starting to go a bit fangirl over it. (Yes, feminists can be fangirls, and we can talk terminology later.) But Supernatural has Issues with women, and therefore, I have Issues with it. So, since I’m still in the middle of my marathon, and I’m still befuddled as to why female demons are very selective in their choice of hot female “meat-suits” while male demons don’t really give a crap, I will be starting a series of posts on the presentation of women in the very male-centered, male-led, testosterone-fueled universe that is Supernatural.

Starting now:

Let’s look at what I consider the two worst offenders amongst the episodes I have seen so far: “Heart” (Season 2, Episode 17) and “Wishful Thinking” (Season 4, Episode 8). These two episodes stick out in my mind as particularly sexist and upsetting in a series whose Pilot episode is framed by the fridging of two different female characters, from two generations. And that is just amazing. So get out your frying pan, because you know it’s fish-in-a-barrel time.

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